Visits to Japanese shrines 'to continue'
Updated: 2013-05-13 07:38
The policy chief of Japan's ruling party vowed on Sunday to keep paying homage at a controversial war shrine despite anger and diplomatic protests by China and South Korea.
Analysts warned that Japan will endanger surrounding countries with the continuous rise of its right-wing forces.
Nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers made a pilgrimage last month to the Yasukuni Shrine, a flashpoint in a bitter dispute between Japan and Asian neighbors who were victims of its 20th-century militarism.
Sanae Takaichi, who heads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's policy affairs council, was one of the senior lawmakers who joined the April visit and on Sunday defended the practice.
"It's an internal affair how to commemorate the people who sacrificed their lives for the national policy," Takaichi said on a program on public broadcaster NHK.
The shrine is a stark reminder of Tokyo's brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula and imperialist expansion leading up to World War II. Among the 2.5 million honored there are 14 men convicted of war crimes by a United States-led tribunal after Japan's 1945 surrender.
During World War II, Japan's invasion was disastrous to China, South Korea and other countries in Asia, said Lu Yaodong, an expert in Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Japan would be a danger to its surrounding countries again if it fails to draw lessons from the past and becomes aggressive once more, Lu warned.
If Japanese leaders regard aggression, expansion and colonial rule by the country's former militarists as "a proud history and tradition", and attempt to challenge the results of World War II and post-war order, Japan will never escape its historical shadow and there will be no future for Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said earlier.
Takaichi voiced doubt about a 1995 landmark statement Japan issued under then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, that acknowledged it followed "a mistaken national policy" and advanced along the road to war.
"I think no politician in today's Japan can tell us with confidence what was right in the international situation at that time," she said.
Takaichi also said Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may have different views on history from past Japanese governments, which accepted the judgment of the post-war Tokyo tribunal. She did not elaborate.
Abe's government said last week it does not intend to backtrack on Japan's apologies over World War II.
Abe has also made it clear that he wanted to revise Japan's constitution, which was drafted by the US after World War II, to formalize the country's right to have a military.